New Habits – Top 5 Tips on How to Stick With Them

January often inspires people to look back and reflect upon the year gone and consider changes that they would like to see in their lives in the year ahead. Even if New Year’s resolutions are not for you, with all the energy in the air this is a good time to start building new habits towards some amazing resolutions. Here are our Top 5 tips and tricks that will help you to stick with your new habits and reach your resolutions.

Building new habits can seem daunting, however it should not be so, instead it should be exciting and rewarding. This little guide will help you to understand how to stick with your resolutions and how to stick with your new habits. First of all, you should understand how all good or bad habits work. Author and entrepreneur James Clear notes that all the habits follow the same pattern, which he calls “The 3 R’s of Habit Change”:

  • Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behaviour)
  • Routine (the behaviour itself; the action you take)
  • Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behaviour)

Clear also notes that “If the reward is positive, then you’ll want to repeat the routine again the next time the reminder happens. Repeat the same action enough times and it becomes a habit. Every habit follows this basic 3–step structure.”

If you want to read more about how the habits work, we recommend Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book “The Power of Habit”.

Graphic based on Charles Duhigg’s “Habit Loop” in The Power of Habit. Created by James Clear.

Now that you have an idea of how your habits work, let’s find your resolution, and habits that will help you to keep and reach your New Year’s resolution. Here are our Top 5 tips and tricks to set you on your way.

  1. Find the right one

More often than not, when people set resolutions they simply fail or are forgotten about or sometimes they are impossible to reach. So to start off, find the right one. Be specific and as clear as possible, and limit your resolutions, pick only one or two at the start. Remember a year is long, you can always add more resolutions; it doesn’t have to be January to start something new.

As The New York Times writes: “according to the time management firm Franklin Covey, one third of resolutioners don’t make it past the end of January”. Some of the main reasons for this that they mention are that resolutions are created based on something that someone else is telling you to change, that they are too vague or that you don’t have a realistic plan of how to achieve your goal. Make sure that your resolution is specific, that it matters to you and that it is realistically achievable. Grab a piece of paper and jot down all your ideas, go on!

  1. Make a plan

To get from point A to point B you will need a map or a plan that will guide you there. So think about steps, habits that will help you to reach your resolution. If your resolution is to start living healthier, pick a realistic habit that will help you to reach this goal. Pick something that you can easily incorporate in your daily life, be honest with yourself. Most importantly, don’t allow any exceptions for your new habit; stick with your plan and forget about the excuses. Eventually your new habit will become automatic and natural to you. Just stick with it.

  1. Find your support

Tell your friends and family about your resolution, their support will be beneficial. Who knows, maybe they will even pick up your new habit and help you to stick with it. As Brian Tracy, a motivational public speaker and self development author, notes: “It is amazing how much more disciplined and determined you will become when you know that others are watching you to see if you have the willpower to follow through on your resolution.” Find your support group.

In addition, your support shouldn’t be limited only to others; your support can come also from your other habits. Remember the 3 R’s mentioned at the start of the article? Use already existing habit as a reminder for your new habit. If you want to start meditating every day, add this new habit to your already existing routine, look where it would be the easiest to incorporate that new habit. For example every evening I put away my phone at 9.00 p.m., I make cup of cacao and read for an hour, and then I wash my face, brush my teeth and go to bed, in this order. Now in this routine I can easily incorporate meditation, I could meditate after I finish my cup of cacao and after I have read for a while. So my evening cup of cacao will become the trigger that will initiate my new habit of meditation, and my reward will be better night’s sleep after meditation, clearer head, and improved mental health.

  1. Progress check in

From time to time it is worth reflecting to see where you are at with your resolutions, and whether your new habits are helping you to reach your resolution. Remember where you started from and check in regularly to see whether there are any adjustments or slight changes needed in the plan.

A great way to keep a track of your progress is keeping a personal journal with designated areas that will track your resolution and habit progress. If you have no idea what journaling is and where to start, we recommend you to have a look at a founder of Wild Woman Strong Brittany Lillegard’s created Intentional Journaling self-guided workshop and/or schedule a Personal Inventory Day each month as suggested by human rights technologist and CEO of Be Bold Media Sabrina Hersi Issa

  1. Celebrate

Last but not least celebrate how far you have come, celebrate your progress. This will boost your self-efficiency and your motivation.

Baiba Šustere

Baiba Šustere is a writer whose work focuses on mindfulness, health and wellbeing.